It didn’t take long for the tears to fall, for the collective grief of 22 nations to echo through the holiday island.
They started at dawn, amid limestone monoliths towering over a hill south of Kuta where hundreds gathered for the official memorial ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the bombings.
And they spread through Jalan Legian — where streams of people wept at the site of the bomb monument — and to Kuta Beach at dusk for an emotional candlelight tribute on the water.
The grief came from friends, from family and from strangers overwhelmed with emotion, proving that the decade since the attack that claimed 202 lives — including 88 Australians — hasn’t healed the gaping wound it left in Australia’s history.
The Australian Government had expected up to 4000 people at yesterday morning’s official ceremony at Bali’s Garuda Wisnu Cultural Park, which was surrounded by tight security amid reports of a possible terrorist attack.
But less than a third of the seats were filled as many family members and survivors who had traveled to the island chose to forgo the official service in favour of low-key tributes at the bomb site.
Megan and Shane Basioli wandered along a pathway carved into the sandstone hillside yesterday morning, eyes sweeping the rough hewn walls where 10 big boards with golden frames bore the photos of the lost.
Ms Basioli, 24, was the youngest WA survivor of the Bali bombings. She was only 14-years-old when she was caught up in the Sari Club blast and suffered burns to 37 per cent of her body. Now a nurse at Royal Perth Hospital, where 10 years ago the care she received after Bali as a patient inspired her to become a healer, she and 19-year-old brother Shane paused in front of one of the photos.
The smiling image of Peter Basioli, the loving father they had both lost on that night of terror, stared back.
June Corteen, whose twin 39-year-old daughters Jane and Jenny were killed in the Sari Club blast, said she managed to maintain her composure until John Williamson began playing a song he had written after watching the paddle for peace ceremony in honour of the victims.
“I held it together until John sang Flower on the Water. That’s when I lost it completely.”
Perth resident Grant Sexton, 28, sat with his wife Mel on the edge of a fountain and played with his 14-month-old son Evan. He had come to remember his father, Lee Sexton, a 45-year-old sales representative. who was among those killed.
Mr Sexton, who admitted the hardest moment in the last decade was realising his dad would never meet his baby boy, said the service was “very moving”.
Kathy McGregor, Mr Sexton’s partner and friend at the time of his death, looked on fondly as Grant spoke softly to the little boy with a shock of blond curls who had been robbed of the chance to know his grandfather.
“It was certainly worthwhile making the journey here,” she said yesterday.
“We were quite apprehensive but we’re glad we took the opportunity.”
Her smile slipped for a moment.
“It doesn’t get any easier with time,” she said.
In Perth, they began assembling well before sun-up. more than 200 family members, friends and supporters joined dignitaries, including Premier Colin Barnett and Opposition Leader Mark McGowan, who gave speeches, at Kings Park to pay their respects at a dawn memorial service to commemorate the 16 West Australians killed.
Many joined small groups for solidarity and strength, occasionally dabbing their eyes with tissues.
“Everyone here shares a common bond — a desire to remember, to never forget,” said celebrant Kevin Clune, the MC.
Shortly before 5.30am, a lone kilted bagpiper began proceedings at the Bali Memorial with a soulful rendering of the Rod Stewart classic Sailing. A sombre but intensely moving ceremony followed.
Mr Clune said that for those who had lost loved ones, the emotional wounds were as raw as they ever had been.
“We can’t understand why some things happen but we do know that love and wonderful memories outlast the pain of grief,” he said.
He noted that candles had long been a symbolic reminder that even in the darkest hours there was light and hope.
Kevin Paltridge, father of Corey Paltridge who died, in the bombings, and Damon Brimson, a survivor, then lit 17 candles — 16 for the 2002 victims and one for Brendan Fitzgerald who was killed in the 2005 bombing on the holiday island.
Corey and Damon were members of the Kingsley Cats Football Club on a post-season trip to Bali. They’d left Perth on 12 October 2002, all wearing white T shirts which proclaimed: “Kingsley Football Club, Bali Tour 2002.”
Yesterday, Damon was wearing the same shirt, as was Mr Paltridge and his wife, Pat.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and former prime minister John Howard attended the interfaith service in Bali yesterday morning and toured Bali’s Sanglah hospital, where most of the victims were taken.
Ms Gillard, who was holidaying in Bali in October 2002 but returned to Australia the day before the attack, likened the island to Gallipoli, saying the two countries would always share a strong bond.
Mr Howard said he felt enormous pride at how both Indonesia and Australia had responded to the tragedy.
“Those that were responsible for this terrible deed…. may have hoped to bring Australia and Indonesia further apart. Instead they brought them closer together,” he said, later eleciting a standing ovation from survivors and the families of victims as he left the event.
But one of the most powerful speeches came from Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa who told the crowd that terrorism would not win.
“The terrorists sought not only to kill and main,” he said.
“They sought to destroy our core values of freedom, of tolerance and of compassion.
“And their attack was nothing less than an assault on humanity. Yet, in all this, they have utterly failed.”
Instead of spreading the “seeds of hatred”, their actions had united different nationalities and religions to reach out to each other.
“They tested our resolve. They tested our resilience. We did not succumb. Far from it,” he said.
Premier Colin Barnett and Opposition Leader Mark McGowan gave speeches at the Perth service, and both spoke without notes.
The Premier described the bombings as a senseless cruel and brutal act of terrorism that had resulted in the needless death of young people with their lives before them.
“It was also in as sense a loss of innocence for a whole generation and for Australia,” he said.
“Suddenly, the reality had hit us that the issues and problems of countries to our north were now part of our life and problems that we would now unfortunately share.”
Mr Barnett said those who lost their lives would never be forgotten by family and friends.
“But I do hope for some of you this tenth year does mark maybe a sense of closure,” he said.
“You will never forget your loved ones but they would want you to live your life to the full in their memory.”
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said the grief of the families involved was immense and was something they should never have had to endure.
“Their loss goes on, their suffering goes on,” he said.
Kelly Garton, sister of Corey Paltridge, read a poem, “When Tomorrow Starts Without Me”. Wreaths and flowers were then laid at the foot of the memorial, by Mr Barnett and McGowan and then by the families and friends.
As John Lennon’s “Imagine” played in the background, many touched the names of their loved ones on the memorial.And as if on cue, the sun peeked out between layers of grey clouds, its rays illuminating the names etched on the memorial. Above them read the inscription: “In the shadow of our sorrow we find a light
With the dawn comes hope, with the setting sun, time to heal.”
The crowd slowly moved off to a barbecue breakfast, which Mr Paltridge was busy help organise.
“It was hard to get through, but it went well,” he said of the service.
“It’s nice to see so many people here remembering what happened.”
Asked if he could perhaps now find any closure, Mr Paltridge replied: “Hate that word. When you lose a child, particularly the way these guys were taken, there’s no closure. You think about them every day and what might have been, and that’s pretty hard.”
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